Kimi Räikkönen, Mika Häkkinen and Valtteri Bottas are all very fast Finns. As we know however they are cheating because they have a motor to make them go quick. The real fast Finns are the ones on skis – cross country skis! The cross country scene in Finland is really strong right now with the likes of Iivo and Kerttu Niskanen, Aino-Kaisa Saarinen, Krista Parmakosi, Anne Kylloenen and Sami Jauhojaervi. The biathletes are getting better too with the likes of Kaisa Mäkäräinen and Mari Laukkanen for inspiration. They also have some young talent coming through on the men’s side like today’s subject Olli Hiidensalo.
After greatly improving his hair style from his IBU Profile picture Olli has now become a biathlete worth taking notice of! He comes from Nummi-Pusula and was born on the 2nd of February 1991. He now lives in Tampere where he studies Industrial Management at the University of Technology. He includes among his hobbies fishing, hunting and orienteering (can you tell he is Finnish!) and the most important one ‘nap’.
He had quite a good Junior career where his best place was a 12th in the Individual in Kontiolahti 2012 and he came 4th in the relay back in 2010 in Torsby. Last season he finished a career high 30th in the Oestersund Individual race scoring his first ever World Cup points so we can safely conclude that he likes racing in Scandinavia. He also managed another 3 TOP 60 finishes in the season, 2 coming in Pokljuka and another in Kontiolahti.
Lucky then for a Finn who races well in Finland that the World Championships are in Kontiolahti this season! It is asking far too much of him to get an Individual medal there but a good result in the relays is not out of the question. It will be a valuable experience for him to race a Championships at home and he will receive great support from the home crowd. They can help a lot and don’t be surprised if Olli produces some of his career best results there. As for the rest of the season he needs to try and make that push into the TOP 40 on a more regular basis and score some more World Cup points.
It’s not easy for the Finns though as although they may get lumped in with their Scandinavian neighbours they are not a biathlon powerhouse like Norway and Sweden. They have issues with funding like many other biathletes and so it’s not easy for them to compete at the very top. They are lucky enough to have a venue that can host a World Cup round and World Championships so that is an advantage. With guys like Olli improving all the time hopefully the situation for the Finnish team will get better.
As for Olli himself well I hope his love of orienteering will help him ‘find his way’ into the TOP 40 more often! 😉 A home World Championship will be good motivation for him this season. He can cement his place in the Men’s Relay team and try to break into the Mixed Relay team too. So if you want to see really fast Finns stick to watching cross country and biathlon and look out for Olli because he won’t be a Hiiden talent for much longer!